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Staring Lane neighborhood wants proposed development studied more

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BATON ROUGE - A proposed neighborhood off Staring Lane has the attention of its neighbors who are questioning some of the plans.

The proposed development of Willow Run Subdivision would be off the east side of Staring Lane, north of Boone Drive, and west of the BREC Bluebonnet Swamp. The site area includes 16.34 acres divided into 91 zero-lot-line homes. The developer is requesting the land, which is currently zoned A1 residential be rezoned as A2.6 zero lot line, which means one side of the house is on the property line with a five-foot easement between houses. 

Willow Run Subdivision has some opposition from the adjacent neighborhood of Santa Rosa. Nancy Aguillard moved into Santa Rosa about 10 years ago and is now spearheading an effort to get her neighbors to sign a petition, asking parties involved to reconsider some aspects of the proposed development.

"There are a lot of things we don't know to be very specific; the entrance, the exit, the drainage, we have those issues," Aguillard said.

Neighbor Misty Smith has major concerns about drainage since Willow Run Subdivision would back up to her property. In the past, a storm has been known to flood properties in Santa Rosa. Smith is also concerned about stormwater draining toward neighboring Bluebonnet Swamp and how it will affect the ecosystem.

"My concern for myself and neighbors near me is that once that drainage is interrupted that it's going to start backing up into our yards," Smith said.

Currently, the property drains to the west toward Bluebonnet Swamp. The developer's Stormwater Management Plan has been submitted and will be reviewed by the Department of Development. That department will provide approvals, denials, or any stipulations for the proposed plan in their final recommendations on Friday.

Then there's a big concern over traffic. Over the last few years, with the expansion of Staring Lane, residents living in the area have had to adjust to a lot more traffic. New neighborhoods are being developed up and down the corridor, and the proposal of another one only makes those concerns greater for Aguillard.

Right now, a median separates the lanes of traffic on Staring Lane where the would-be Willow Run entrance might be. There's concern that the median would stay there and all the neighborhood's traffic needing to make a left-hand turn would have to utilize the left turn at Santa Rosa.

"If you have that many cars utilizing our turn lane making a quick turn and then stopping to turn into Willow Run off of Staring, that's going to create potential issues of safety," Aguillard said.

The ingress and egress on Staring Lane will be reviewed by city-parish Traffic Engineering, but earlier in 2020 Staring Lane became a state route. The Department of Transportation and Development will control what happens with Staring Lane. The state says the developer has not reached the point to apply for a permit for additional work on Staring Lane.

The plans also call for the two neighborhoods to be connected through Miguel Drive, which right now is a dead-end street. The connection is required by code and would also include a future stub-out to the north in the Willow Run neighborhood.

Aguillard doesn't like the idea of people cutting through her neighborhood. She's concerned about the neighborhood's safety, given that children play in the area.

"It's a lot of movement of traffic that we really just don't need," she said.

The items are on the agenda for Monday's Planning Commission meeting. If zoning is given approval, it will go to the metro council for final approval.

Calls to the developer were not returned.

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